Independent Probe Finds Errors Instead of Deliberate Misconduct
HARTFORD, Conn. – An independent investigation into racial profiling data collected by the Connecticut State Police has revealed that inaccurate information was largely due to data-entry mistakes and other mishaps, rather than intentional efforts by troopers to submit false data. The report, released on Thursday by independent investigators, sheds light on the discrepancies identified in traffic stop data and the subsequent audit conducted by the University of Connecticut.
The investigation, led by former federal prosecutor Deirdre Daly, concluded that out of the 81 officers with discrepancies in their data, only seven were referred to state police internal affairs for further review. The remaining 74 officers were deemed “not likely” to have engaged in misconduct or intentional manipulation of racial profiling data. The report emphasized that there was no evidence suggesting troopers intentionally skewed the data.
Last year’s audit, ordered by Governor Ned Lamont, had identified numerous cases where troopers allegedly submitted false or inaccurate information, falsely suggesting higher numbers of traffic stops involving white motorists. The audit raised concerns about the accuracy of reports on racial profiling, which have consistently shown a disproportionate targeting of Black and Hispanic drivers.
Scope of Misconduct
The independent investigators acknowledged “significant failures” by the state police in reporting accurate data, attributing them to inadvertent errors and a lack of proper training. The report emphasized that the extent of potential misconduct was significantly smaller than initially suggested by the audit. While six troopers and a constable were referred to internal affairs due to overreporting of traffic stops, no definitive proof of misconduct was found.
Additionally, the report revealed that five to eight additional troopers will be referred to internal affairs due to issues with their data. Ronnell Higgins, Connecticut’s new public safety commissioner, emphasized that all the troopers referred to internal affairs have been relieved of traffic enforcement duties and could face termination and loss of their police certifications if misconduct is confirmed.
Reaction and Further Investigation
In response to the findings, Governor Lamont expressed concern and stated that some overreporting may have been motivated by a desire to enhance productivity. The investigation also revealed ongoing scrutiny from the U.S. departments of Justice and Transportation regarding the ticket data.
Andrew Matthews, the executive director of the state police union, expressed satisfaction with the report, stating that it vindicated their criticisms of the UConn audit. Matthews argued that the audit unjustifiably harmed the reputation of the agency and eroded public trust in law enforcement.
Steps Taken for Accuracy
Governor Lamont and Commissioner Higgins highlighted the measures already implemented to ensure accurate data entry. These include the placement of computers in police cruisers, training programs for troopers and supervisors, and regular data audits.
The investigation’s findings provide a clearer understanding of the inaccuracies in Connecticut’s racial profiling data, attributing them primarily to unintentional mistakes rather than deliberate misconduct. The state police will continue to address these issues and work towards improving the accuracy and integrity of their data collection processes.